RICHMOND — The 2019 Redskins are going to need to protect the football to win in the regular season. That's why they should be thankful they drafted Jimmy Moreland, instead of having him end up elsewhere.
The seventh-round rookie corner was a thief in May OTAs and June minicamp, and on Tuesday, he was stealing again from Washington's quarterbacks during the team's fifth training camp session.
First, he got Case Keenum by going up and snagging one of No. 8's attempts. Then, to close out practice, he gracefully high-pointed a Dwayne Haskins pass and held on to it after tumbling to the ground. He was even able to quickly spring up and return the ball down the sideline for what could've been a score in live action.
Don't be fooled, the following play certainly isn't as easy as Moreland made it look to be:
Afterward, a large group of reporters gathered around Moreland to hear about his mindset as he looks to solidify himself in the secondary as a first-year pro. It was a major gathering of people, but the 227th-overall pick handled the rapid questions as smoothly as he handles his turnovers.
"They didn't expect this out of me, they probably didn't know what I was capable of doing," he said. "I'm here just to prove them wrong, prove that I can be on this level with them and help them and get better."
It's been a remarkable start to life in the Burgundy and Gold for Moreland, who's already developed somewhat of a cult following among fans on Twitter and has also caught the attention of Jay Gruden. It almost feels weird to say about someone drafted so late, but at this point, it seems like Moreland already has a spot on this defense.
"He's done a good job," Gruden said. "He's played outside and inside; versatility is huge for the nickel cornerback position... Coming from JMU, he was well-coached out there, he plays with great ball skills. We've mentioned that before and seen it already."
As with any young defensive back, there's been some hiccups. Two times on Tuesday, Moreland was beaten by Robert Davis in 1-on-1s, and on both occasions, he grabbed the receiver and would've certainly been flagged for each infraction. DBs coach Ray Horton and Moreland have spirited conversations about playing the position and he's being mentored by the vets, though. He should be able to learn from those miscues.
What was especially encouraging about his effort on Day 5, meanwhile, was one sequence where he fought through one block to completely wreck a screen play. Earlier in the offseason, Gruden joked that the smaller Moreland would have to show him he could stand out when the pads came on. He certainly did so there.
"I think I'm showing him that I can be physical as well," Moreland said with a smile.
That smile has been a common sight here, as the 23-year-old seems to be fitting in quite well. He's a late-round selection from an FCS program, but you can't tell that from the way he acts or the way he's starting to pop with his INTs.
"A lot of great players in this league aren't from big schools," he said. "You've just got to come in with the same work ethic, let them know you've got the same talent as them. You made it here for a reason just like everyone else did."
MORE REDSKINS NEWS
- Moreau's improvement: Gruden sees a difference
- Day 5 notes: A huge fight broke out at practice
- Penn has arrived: Why his signing can help